Obama raising with Missouri stimulus beneficiary
By ALEXANDER BURNS | 9/23/11 12:12 PM EDT Updated: 9/23/11 3:41 PM EDT
President Barack Obama will raise money in early October with a Missouri businessman whose company benefited from a $107 million federal tax credit to develop a wind power facility in his state.
Tom Carnahan, a scion of Missouri’s most prominent Democratic political family, is listed on Obama’s campaign website as a host of a $25,000-per-person fundraiser to be held in St. Louis on October 4.
His energy development firm, Wind Capital Group, was helped by a sizable credit authorized in the stimulus, for an energy project in northwest Missouri.
Republicans argue that it’s inappropriate for the Obama campaign to raise money from a donor who has benefited directly from the Recovery Act.
Missouri Republican Party executive director Lloyd Smith compared the situation to the Solyndra affair, in which the Obama administration reportedly rushed federal support to a green-energy firm that subsequently collapsed.
“At a time when Barack Obama is under fire for steering hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus funds to a failed company linked to a major campaign donor, it is stunning that he would come to Missouri and raise money with another recipient of stimulus cash,” Smith said in a statement to POLITICO. “Sadly, Missourians have come to expect this kind of pay-to-play from the Obama administration. November 2012 can't come soon enough.”
The Obama campaign did not respond to a request for comment. There’s no evidence that Carnahan’s company received federal help because of political favoritism, and given the size of the stimulus, there are more than a few business executives who can be tied to the Recovery Act.
But Republicans have successfully wielded the Missouri wind power project as a political weapon before.
In 2010, Republicans attacked Tom Carnahan’s siblings, Rep. Russ Carnahan and Senate candidate Robin Carnahan, for the government help their brother’s firm received.
UPDATE: Tony Wyche, a consultant for Wind Capital Group, sends over an editorial memo the company circulated during the 2010 campaign, pushing back on the GOP's attacks on Tom Carnahan and his siblings. The memo notes that the credits Wind Capital Group benefited from are not administered by a political agency.
"The Recovery Act authorized the creation of the 1603 program to jumpstart development of renewable energy projects in America, but its administration rests solely in the hands of the Department of Treasury," the memo says. "No Member of Congress has any say in which projects receive funding. Any project that meets a pre?determined set of criteria qualifies for the 1603 program."